Winter storm paralyses Quebec as people face power outages, transportation disruptions

Written by  Prerit Chauhan   |  February 29th 2024 04:52 PM  |  Updated: February 29th 2024 04:52 PM

Winter storm paralyses Quebec as people face power outages, transportation disruptions

PTC Web Desk: In a tumultuous turn of events, a powerful winter storm has wreaked havoc in Quebec, leaving more than a quarter of a million Hydro-Quebec customers without power. Additionally, Montreal's light-rail line faced a shutdown, severely impacting transportation services across the province. The winter storm, characterised by strong winds and heavy rain, has significantly disrupted normal life in Quebec.

As of Wednesday evening, the number of households grappling with power outages soared to 250,985, and the count continued to rise steadily throughout the early evening hours. The hardest-hit regions were Quebec's Montérégie and Montreal, with 62,000 and 45,000 customers respectively left in the dark.

Hydro-Quebec, the provincial electricity provider, attributed the widespread outages to branches and trees breaking near power grids and coming into contact with them. The utility company assured residents that field crews were actively working to restore power, emphasising their commitment to minimising downtime. A social media post by Hydro-Quebec conveyed, "The reliability of service is our priority, and we are in action to reduce outages."

Montreal's light-rail line, known as REM (Réseau express métropolitain), faced a complete shutdown due to the extensive power outages affecting Hydro-Québec. A spokesperson for REM said the restoration time for the service was "undetermined," urging commuters to utilize shuttle buses provided as an alternative.

Disturbing visuals circulated on social media, showing stranded REM trains with passengers trapped inside. Some passengers were eventually evacuated, walking along the tracks in adverse weather conditions. Kevin Dalpé, a commuter who experienced the ordeal, shared his two-hour journey that culminated in a 10-minute walk in high winds and rain to the Du Quartier station on Montreal's South Shore. Dalpé expressed concern for older passengers forced to walk in inclement weather, highlighting the unexpected challenges commuters faced.

The City of Montreal assured residents of its readiness to tackle the storm's aftermath. With 1,000 salt trucks and an equal number of crews on standby, the city aimed to combat the flash freeze and strong winds expected to follow the storm. 

One of the primary concerns for the city was the potential impact of strong winds on trees, leading to falling branches and potential power outages. Extra crews were placed on standby to address emergencies arising from fallen trees and branches. Environment and Climate Change Canada issued widespread wind warnings, cautioning residents about winds reaching up to 90 km/h and a wind chill making the temperature feel like -23.

Residents were advised to exercise caution on roads and sidewalks and opt for public transit when possible. The city remained vigilant, ensuring that citizens were well-informed about potential risks and encouraged everyone to be cautious during the aftermath of the storm.

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